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November 24, 2008

The 19th Century Baseball Experiment

I am trying to get 19th Century style baseball started in Southern California.

I am keen to encourage and grow 19th Century living history that is not focused around war or gunfighting, since I strongly believe that such activities can have more to teach and can be more fun than more violent pastimes. Note that I am in no way trying to suppress battle re-enactments or gunfight shows. They will happen with or without my support--but I am trying to "grow the market" and create a net gain in chances to dress up in public.

One of the great advantages of an event that is built around a battle is that is has is a clear focus. There is a central activity -- a reason for all those people to be there and a thing for them to do. This can be a problem with a civilian event.

However, with a sports event we can have it both ways. We can have the focus and interest of a battle while still presenting the mostly peaceful world of 19th Century America. If we were British, our focus would have to be a cricket match, but fortunately we are Americans so we can play baseball.

In addition to the baseball game, there would be any number of spectators who can come in large or small groups or individually: picnickers, musicians, dancers, hawkers, cowboys, sheepmen, medicine shows, political demonstrations (Temperance ladies--here's you cue), blacksmiths, telegraphers, roving phrenologists, physicians, newspaper men, laundries, cooking, and all the variety and vitality that was 19th Century America.

One of the things I love most about the civilian concept is that everyone belongs. You can never be too old or too young or too female or too male or too ethnic or too skinny or too fat. This is not the case for military men (though on the old-fat front, that doesn't stop a lot of them) and you are all welcome at the game.

So, I am trying to pull together a "league" of 19th Century baseball players. We are forming a team in the San Fernando Valley and are looking for other folks who might be interested in joining us. If we can get two teams, we can find a field somewhere, declare a game and invite all comers to join us in the fun.

Here's what I see as the basic elements of this league.

  • We will use the rules of around 1870
  • You don't have to be good at baseball
  • You have to be healthy enough to do baseball stuff on a hot day without keeling over.
  • Uniforms are optional -- though 19th Century attire is required. If this takes off, teams may want to spruce themselves up a bit.
  • Boys only--no girls see! So, if women want to play they need to wear men's clothes and a comical false mustache.

Let me know if anyone is interested.


Walter Nelson

Posted by Walter at 09:21 AM | Comments (1)

November 18, 2008

The Living History "Flash Mob"

Lately I have been pondering the situation of the "civilian re-enactor". This is someone who chooses to portray a non-military person at public history events. This civilian often finds him or herself marginalized at events that are really all about soldiers marching about and playing "bang you're dead" or gunfighters doing what ever gunfighters do, as well as also target shooting or playing "bang you're dead".

Further, the civilian is often, by choice and situation a free agent without the support provided by an established group. This can be very isolating, and seriously degrade one's quotient of fun, with nothing much to do and no one to talk to.

Modern technology however offers an interesting opportunity to mitigate the negative aspects of wanting to portray the ordinary man, woman or child of the era while increasing the fun and impact of our activities.

A modern phenomenon is the "flash mob", where a group of individuals use email, texting, social networks, cell phones and the like to create collective action. Often it's things like political protests or stunts. However, this same model of the flash mob can be applied to our hobby, and allow the benefits of a supportive group of like minded people without the complexity and constraint of formal organizations.

I would like to suggest that we who portray historical folk embrace the model of the "flash mob" and use technology to make our mark on the world.

If this interests you , please read the full entry for the details.

Continue reading "The Living History "Flash Mob""

Posted by Walter at 04:20 PM | Comments (7)